Middle South

June, 2007
Regional Report

Determine Culprit Before Spraying

A recent hailstorm shredded plant foliage. If you didn't know about the storm you might suspect that insects had been chewing on the leaves. That's why it's important to identify the cause of a problem before resorting to sprays. Visit damaged plants at different times during the day to look for insects. If you find any, identify them before spraying. The larvae of lady beetles, for example, look nothing like the shiny red adults, and you wouldn't want to spray and kill these beneficial insects.

Deadhead Daily

Carry pruners with you whenever you head out to your garden. As you browse, snip off spent flowers and over-ripe fruit. By keeping plants from producing mature seeds you'll encourage them to continue producing. Cutting back early-blooming perennials like dianthus can encourage a second flush of growth and flowering.

Reuse and Recycle

By now you probably have 4- and 6-packs and pots of various sizes left over from spring planting. Before throwing them in the trash, consider whether you might need them for next spring's seed starting. If not, think about donating them to a school garden program. A surprising number of these reusable pots end up in the landfill.

Attract Beneficial Insects

Intersperse vegetable plantings with flowers to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. Zinnias, cosmos, and similarly shaped flowers will attract butterflies. Dill and other umbel-shaped flowers attract tiny, beneficial (and non-stinging) wasps. Plus, flowers are just plain nice to look at.

Use Pesticides with Caution

There's a pollinator crisis occurring, and honeybees are dying off from unknown causes. Do your part to protect pollinators by avoiding pesticide sprays as much as possible. If you must use sprays, avoid spraying blossoms and spray in the evening when bees have returned to their hives.

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